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BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a new leadership team in place the Buffalo School District is moving forward with security upgrades in staffing and technology to help address concerns over violence at school buildings.
It’s a significant investment and details were provided to school board members and the public Wednesday night.
For years Buffalo School officials told us they did not want to turn schools in to prisons with increased security to stem violence. That was even as other cities like Rochester did use metal detectors, but now new scanning technology makes it more feasible to raise the safety factor.
At the school board work session, the district said its new incoming school security chief — former Buffalo Police Department Deputy Commissioner Barbara Lark — starts later this month with a larger unit under her command and more law enforcement assistance.
New recent district hiring added 30 school security staffers for a total of 82 now, and three more BPD school resource officers were brought in by the city for a total of 10 such officers.
Also on public transit with students heading to school or home, there is a greater NFTA police presence along with the civilian anti-violence Peacemakers group on transit and in and around schools.
Then there’s the tech equipment, which totals nearly $3 million. It includes new key cards and access pads for school doors, intruder alert and alarm buttons, security cameras, and new radios for security staff along with hand-held metal detector wands.
Perhaps most interesting is the hi-tech, low-profile walk-through weapons detectors with sensors from firms such as Evolve, which we have shown you at Niagara Falls High School. They are in use at various high profile entertainment and sporting venues like Disneyworld and football stadiums, and now they will be plugged in to school building entrances.
Buffalo Schools Chief Operating Officer David Hills said: “They’re fairly wide apart so you’re not constricted much, and up to 2,000 individuals an hour can go through them. And they don’t have to take off their bags.
“If there is a positive signal, they will be sent over to a clearing table. But it will specify exactly where the signal was. So was it in their chest area, was it in the bag, was it elsewhere? And just that item can be searched more fully by a staffer with a hand-held metal wand detector.”
Hills says they are testing some of this equipment in schools right now, and they hope it to have it installed first at the high schools, perhaps by Thanksgiving break or just after, and then it will go in to other schools, such as the elementary level buildings.
The equipment upgrades and staffing were paid for with federal government grants and other funding funneled through the state.
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